Now is the time
They couldn't walk across the stage to accept their award this year but our online event still honoured UTS Law students.
Good Evening and I'm very grateful that you're here
tonight attending our virtual annual
Law Awards Ceremony. My name is Lesley Hitchens
and I'm the Dean of the Faculty of Law here at UTS.
Our annual Awards Ceremony and Graduation Ceremonies are two of the
highlights of the Law Faculty. Certainly for me,
they're events that I look forward to in particular
every university year but sadly this year,
we have not been able to hold graduation
but we can at least do this small event to celebrate and to honor our
students and also those of you who generously support us through
donations and through the other ways in which you
support our students, whether it's through
teaching guest classes and so forth. And so,
I'm very grateful to have you here this evening
and I hope that you'll enjoy what will be quite a brief ceremony.
Before I go on, I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal People
of the Eora Nation upon whose ancestral lands
our city campus now stands. I'd also like to pay respect
to the elders both past and present, acknowledging them
as the traditional custodians of knowledge
for this land. So as I said, it's a very great pleasure to
welcome you here this evening, whether you're a student
a family or friend of the students or you're a friend of UTS Law. And as
I've said, importantly having those of you who
donate prizes to our students, you are especially
welcome in making this ceremony but also
our prizes system as it were
happen possible. And especially grateful to you
for your continuing generosity and interest in the Faculty of Law
and our students. Your support is more important than ever as a faculty
and as a university. We face some ever-growing challenges in
the years ahead as you'll be aware.
I'd like to particularly acknowledge and welcome this evening
The Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG to our event.
Michael Kirby has been a great friend to the Law Faculty and has
continued over a number of years to mentor individual
students, something he always takes very seriously
and I know that it can often be a life-changing experience
for the students who are being mentored. If I can just also remind you that this
is being recorded this evening and it will be available on our 2020 Law
This year, I think perhaps it's more important than ever
to stop and acknowledge the remarkable achievements
of you, our students. We want you to know that we admire your resilience, your
adaptability and your desire to succeed no matter
what obstacles are put in your path.
When our students start out, they think they have a long journey ahead of us,
whether it's three, four or five years but it passes very quickly and I never
cease to be amazed that students I got to know in their
first year, often in their first weeks, are what in seems like a moment,
now advanced students or they've even graduated.
However, that connection doesn't stop there.
One of the privileges as academics is to be able to see the successes of
our graduates, as they progress in their careers and to
remain connected with them as alumni and
through the many ways in which they help the Law Faculty and
our law students to flourish. The faculty too has been active in
developing opportunities for lifelong learning
and we hope that the short courses that we've been developing
will be of benefit to our alumni. And it's why I'm also pleased that
tonight we're able once again to have an alumnus of UTS Law as our guest
speaker. This year it's another opportunity
to mark the journey of our graduates and to draw wisdom from them
but I want to take this opportunity also to acknowledge the faculty's academic
staff. It's their excellence in research and
teaching, supported by our dedicated professional
staff that sustains the reputation of UTS Law. It's
their commitment to the classroom that enables and inspires our students.
This year, I have been particularly impressed,
amazed actually, and humbled by their resilience, by their ability to
adapt quickly to the changing environment. They moved
to online teaching within a week and it seems as though there is a new
situation and a challenge almost on a weekly basis and yet they
did that with a great spirit of collegiality
and of service to the faculty and to the students.
The demands of moving online, and for many of our colleagues
home schooling at the same time, as well as travel limitations,
have had an inevitable impact on research this year
and yet despite these challenges the faculty has continued its impact,
its commitment to impact and social change.
Thus, colleagues have used their expertise
to raise concerns about the impact of COVID on Indigenous Australians
and prison communities, exploitation of international students through low
forms low cost wage labour and potential
disasters. At the beginning of the year, we were very excited to move in to our
beautiful new faculty home, UTS Central, and I am
sitting here in the building tonight where I had hoped to be able to welcome
you, so that you could see what a beautiful
building it is. It's state-of-the-art, it's contemporary,
innovative and just such a beautiful space. It's
very much like our faculty but sadly at the present
where we are, we've had very little opportunity
to experience this. Within a month of moving here,
we had to go into lockdown and work from home
but we do hope in the new future that we will be able to make full use of this
space, to welcome you, our students, guests and
friends of the faculty and to make it a hub for new and bold
ideas within the precinct.
Tonight we are here to celebrate our students achievements.
Whilst we can't celebrate you in person and give you your moment to walk across
the stage and receive your award, I want you to know that we recognise and
applaud your hard work and perseverance. Your achievements reach
across a broad spectrum, reflecting the key
components of what we aim to achieve through the legal education we
provide at UTS. Many of the awards honour academic
excellence and of course we value excellence and we
value the fact that our students are prepared to strive for that excellence
and to take pleasure in their learning and their achievements
but we also value the development of skills.
Skills that are necessary to ensure that our graduates are equipped to apply
their knowledge as professionals. Some of the awards
acknowledge success in those skills. Skills that are embedded within the
formal curriculum but also beyond through activities and
competitions organised by the faculty and student
body. As well, our awards recognise service
that many of our students have made to the faculty
and to the university and the wider community.
Leadership through service is an important value
in our faculty. It is part of what it means
to be a professional and I'd like here just to acknowledge
two prizes that I always regard as very special
at the annual Awards Ceremony. The first is the Dean's
Leadership Prize and that has been awarded this year
to Ben Fong, who was President last year of the Law Students' Society
and the Dean's Service Prize, which has been awarded this year to Margaret Cai
and I will say a little bit about Margaret Cai in a moment, so that you
will get a sense of why she has been awarded
that prize. So the recognition that we give to students,
whether it's through skills or extracurricular activities through
service and leadership as is as important as the recognition
we give to all other awards. It's what being a law student at UTS means,
disciplinary knowledge, professional skills
service. To our students, my congratulations to all of you who are
receiving awards this evening and to our donors family and friends,
thank you also for your support to our students
and to our faculty.
I hope as students this evening that you will take the time to reflect
on your achievements and in spite of all the difficulties we
are facing at the moment enjoy your success and as I said we're
looking forward to the time when we can properly
all be back together again in this beautiful faculty.
Now I would like to introduce you to Nicholas Saady,
our speaker this evening. Nicholas joins us from California. He graduated
from UTS with the university medal and First Class Honours
in 2018. He worked as a graduate lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills and he then
went on to hold a to study a Master of Laws at
New York University Law School, where he has since graduated.
He studied there on a Dean's Graduate Award Scholarship
and the Elias Lieberman Fellowship Network. Nick will sit the New York Bar
in September 2020 and commence working as a second
year attorney in the Civil Litigation Group of Davis,
Polk and Wardle in New York City in October
2020. It's a great pleasure to have you here
tonight Nick, welcome!
Thank you Lesley! I'll start with some good news, tonight is a testament to your immense
intelligence and skill. You've been aptly rewarded
for your diligence and dedication. Savor the moment and enjoy it with your
loved ones. The even better news is that your
journeys have just begun. If you're a first or second year student,
you have a cacophony of subjects to go. If you're a latter year student or
recent grad, you have a lifetime of work to go.
Look forward to your paths ahead. This pandemic has shown that so much needs to
change in this world. Big questions have been raised about the
role of government, the power of corporations
the importance of listening to experts and social, racial and generational
inequality. In addition to those big questions, we
still face the challenges posed by climate change,
white nationalism and human rights abuses, to name just a few.
We need to address those big questions and challenges.
In the words of former U.S. President Obama,
now is a time where we need to prove that together,
ordinary people can do extraordinary things
but you are not just ordinary people. As UTS Law students and graduates, you
stand in a privileged position, with such privilege comes a
responsibility. You now have a duty and that duty is to
make an impact. That's the first of my two messages to
you tonight. Go out and make a positive impact on
your communities, your country and your world.
Taking on the big challenges and addressing those complex questions.
Your impact might be achieved through your academic work,
pro bono work or legal practice. It might be big, it might be small, it
might occur now, it might occur in a few years time.
Whatever it is, make sure that it counts. Your education
and experiences at UTS Law have equipped you with the capabilities to do this
and you've been trained to think critically and constructively by the
best academics and practitioners in Australia.
You survived the readings, you survived the exams amidst
the lure of the tab machines in the bars of Wentworth Park,
you navigated the stream of interesting individuals at Central Station,
you managed to stay healthy despite the delicious steady stream of Asian
restaurants in Haymarket, you balance the risks of arriving too
early at networking events, with arriving early enough to get the
best appetizers and for merchandise. And then you got through a
semester of what Fat Boy Slim would call eat,
sleep, study, lockdown and repeat. And that leads me to my second message
to you tonight, in the current climate how can you successfully
make a positive impact? A tough research question. Using my
impeccable research skills, I googled, I consulted the oracle of all
worthwhile knowledge - UTS Law. Typing that into the Google's
search bar, I clicked, I then found the UTS Law Website
and the first thing I read was this: "a dynamic and innovative law school
achieving great success for the quality of its legal education
and research". In there, there are three critical
amazing words dynamic, innovative and success.
Those three words are critical for you as you continue on your journeys
and seek to positively impact the world. First be dynamic. Don't be afraid to
change things up, whether that be your career path, your
interests or even in your location. Your education
at UTS has equipped you with the capabilities to adapt
and innovate. Don't be afraid to be different,
whether that's through embarking on a unique area of legal practice,
starting a non-profit or pro bono organisation
or investing your time in a startup and then if you add another two factors
to the four factor balancing exercise, which you'd be
accustomed to, which are hard work and perseverance,
you'll be on the way to the third word, success.
Dynamism, innovation, hard work and perseverance .
Like the maxims of equity, ingrain those four words into your brain
and you'll be on the path to success.
Now some of what i'm saying might seem a bit crazy to you,
it might seem out of reach let me tell you that it's not.
If there's any imposter syndrome, drop it now.
I can remember it eating away at me during my time as a student.
Questions like "should I be here?", "how to get that mark?",
"am I good enough?". The answers to all of those questions
are yes. Just remember Michael Jordan was cut from his varsity basketball team
during his sophomore year. Bill Gates' first company
failed miserably. Einstein couldn't get a job for two years after he graduated
and J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12
Now you are some of the brightest legal minds in our country.
Remember that. Let it inspire you as you embark upon the remainder of your legal
careers and your degrees here at UTS.
You're going to need every ounce of confidence in the current world.
It's not an easy place but you need to look on the bright side.
The radically different reality in which we now live
presents opportunities for you to be dynamic,
innovative and successful. As well educated and driven youth who
are willing to work hard and persevere now is the perfect time for you.
So as UTS Law students and graduates, let's shake things up.
Let's make an impact and in doing so, remember that we're in this together.
This world-class institution has created an unbreakable bond between us.
We stand together as UTS Law, We will work together as UTS Law and
ultimately, we will make a positive impact as UTS
Law. Congratulations again and enjoy tonight!
The future is bright for all of you. Now together, let's go forth as a new
generation of dynamic and innovative individuals and let us
dream of a future where our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren
look back on us with gratitude. That we were successful in fulfilling
our duty to positively impact our communities,
our country and our world.
Nick thank you so much for that! I'm pleased to see that
despite having the achievements of the University Medal,
you were still able to understand all the
other aspects of life as a student around UTS such as the
food offerings and so forth. I'm glad none of the experience was
was lost on you but more importantly thank you for the words that you've
just conveyed because
we are facing really challenging
problems I think and yet I see amongst our
students just incredible opportunities for
having impact for change and I really encourage students to
think beyond that and you I know Nick, are a great example yourself
of someone who is not only focused on study, but really
thought about the future impact that you can
have and for example how you can support other
students coming through as well, so thank you again. Thanks Lesley! It's
been a pleasure, thank you! And we probably should
doubly thank you because I think it's about midnight where you are.
1 am! So we're very grateful. I want to now
turn to Margaret and Margaret is one of our
current students and as you heard Margaret was awarded the Dean's Service
Prize this year. She's currently President of
the Australian Law Student's Association, which is the body
that brings together law student societies from across the
from across Australia and I know personally that she has been
very active in bringing change this year and ensuring that
students have a voice on significant issues
affecting their future careers and so forth.
She is currently a finalist in the 2020 Lawyers Weekly Australian Law
Students 'Law Student of the Year' category and
we've all got our fingers crossed Margaret for that
outcome. We're yet to hear the results and you will have seen as well that she,
or you may not have seen, but she also appears
this evening on the Dean's Merit List, which is
the first time that we have had a Dean's Merit List and so we're
very excited to see the students who are appearing as part
of that recognition as well. So I'd like to hand
over to Margaret now thank you
Thanks so much for that Lesley! Thank you everyone for having me today and
congratulations to every award recipient
in this virtual room right now! I've been invited to share
a bit about my experiences at UTS, so I thought
I'd start at the beginning. I first set foot in a UTS Building
almost six years ago, as an 18 year old with a bit too much attitude. So the
gravity of my first days at uni never really struck me until recently.
When I started my plan was a simple one, I would study hard, I would hopefully
make some friends and after five years I would graduate
with two degrees that I'd probably forget about after I used
them to land my first job. It was a very clinical approach to a
university and law school that is anything but clinical.
This year in my role as the President of the Australian Law Students' Association (ALSA),
I work with students from law schools across Australia.
When I started my tenure, I had two main aspirations for ALSA.
First they'll become key stakeholders in the things that matter to us,
issues like diversity, mental health and bullying and sexual harassment in
the legal profession and second that in advocating on what we
expect in our law schools and the legal profession we lead by
example. It's a vision inspired by the things
that UTS does very well. Like all other industries this year, the
legal profession has been punctuated by changes and challenges. While studying
from home isn't an ideal situation to be in, I'm
proud to be part of a law school that continues to show leadership in our
community. In the aftermath of the Dyson Heydon
revelations, numerous members of our faculty were
involved in an open letter to the Attorney General calling for
reforms to the way judges are disciplined and appointed.
In response to the impacts of COVID-19, the UTS LSS
started an Elderly Pen Pals Initiative, where students sent messages of support
to senior members of the community and amongst many other things there's been
first year speed mentoring events, online careers seminars
and a new UTS Law podcast to keep us all connected and busy.
Such purpose and resilience is a testament to the character of our Law
School and the people who contribute to it now.
Although today is largely a celebration of our student
cohort, I want to also extend that
acknowledgement to all the members of our faculty.
They're the people behind the scenes who constantly
show up and support us. Last year I had the opportunity to represent UTS
in Oxford at the International Intellectual Property Moot.
Our coaches, Isabella and Evana, spent months working to turn our team with
three from a group who had no knowledge or
experience in the area of law into a team that made
the semi-finals. They reviewed draft after draft of our
submissions, sat through practice after practice and
while their names might not be on the slide show today,
they're the reason we made it as far as we did.
I don't think it's a stretch to say that everyone in this room will be able to
think of lecturers, academics, other members of faculty that
have motivated us to strive in ways that go beyond their job
description. Now like many other students over the
years, I found myself participating in things
like social sport, competitions and mentoring programs that I never thought
I would have been involved in when I first started uni.
The truth is I'm always going to be indebted to this law school
for some of the most remarkable experiences I've had
and some of the most incredible people in my life.
You know of course like many good love stories, I even met my boyfriend Jonathan
at Law Camp. It feels arbitrary then to reduce my
time at UTS down to a handful of highlights but I
think there are some certainties in all these experiences that are not
unique to me at UTS. The people we encounter are generous
with their time< the environment that we study in is one
where things like curiosity and teamwork help you thrive and from
day one there's a social justice imperative that
drives our community. These are the hallmarks of the culture
at UTS. And so while we might all be feeling a
bit of Zoom fatigue right now, I think it's a really, really exciting
time to be a UTS Law student. Thanks!
Thank you so much Margaret and you of course have been a student
who has been so involved and it's wonderful to see,
one of the things I love, is to see that richness of student life and the way in
which the initiatives that you and other
students who are active through the Law Student Society and
other activities to see that initiative that you take
and I want to say thank you as well for that really generous
tribute to my colleagues, to the academic staff and for the work that they do.
And it's perhaps a good opportunity for me to just mention
also again you will see it on the screen but
unfortunately we won't see the person on the stage we have an
annual prize which is awarded not to a
student but one to one of our academic colleagues and
it's the Lyndal Taylor and Emma Holt
Teaching Prize. And it's awarded to an academic who has
made some special contribution to legal education and I'm very pleased
to announce this evening that it's Robin Bowley, who not only
does puts a lot into the subjects that he teaches
but also who creates a lot of additional opportunities for students to
experience what it might be like to think about how
they apply law professionally and so forth. So a particular tribute
there tonight and in fact it's just coming up on the
screen now to Dr. Robin Bowley. Thank you again Margaret and
you of course and like so many of your cohort are some
of the students that are already having an impact and that we will watch
with pleasure in future years and so I'm glad that
you got over that clinical approach to your
law studies. That concludes our evening now and it would of course, in other
circumstances, we would be inviting you to some refreshments but
I hope that you might have an opportunity in your own
homes to celebrate in the way that you think is appropriate
the achievements that have been acknowledged here tonight.
So thank you all for attending this unusual Law Awards Ceremony!
Congratulations again to our students on behalf of the Faculty of Law and UTS.
Just to let you know there will be a dedicated website
with the details of all of tonight's award ceremony, the donors, the awards and
the recipients and that will be available next week and
we'll be emailing you a link
to that website. So for now, I will wish you a Good Evening once
again thank you and I do hope that you and your families
are all staying safe in this very difficult
and uncertain time. Thank you again!
UTS Law graduate and 2018 University Medal recipient, Nicholas Saady used a quote from former US president, Barack Obama to motivate recipients at this year’s online Law Awards ceremony.
With the COVID19 pandemic raging across the globe and so many challenges facing every country, Nicholas implored UTS Law students to make a positive impact:
We need to address those big questions and challenges. In the words of former US President Obama, now is the time where 'we need to prove that together, ordinary people can still do extraordinary things.'
Ironically, it’s partly because of the pandemic that Nicholas was able to accept the guest speaker invitation for the 2020 Law Awards event as he is currently in the United States.
After graduating from UTS Law, he worked for law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills in Sydney before taking up the Dean’s Graduate Scholarship and the Elias Lieberman Fellowship to study his Master of Laws at NYU.
Nicholas is preparing to sit the NY Bar exams next month and will start work as a 2nd year Attorney in Civil Litigation with Davis Polk and Wardwell (NY) in October - he would not have been able to attend an actual event but he was able to join the online Law Awards albeit in the early hours of the morning New York time.
Nick is a great example of how far a graduate can go with a UTS Law degree.
Final year student, Margaret Cai is already using her legal and advocacy skills as the current president of the Australian Law Students Association. She’s also been involved in a range of co-curricular activities including travelling to Oxford last year as a member of the UTS Law team competing in the prestigious Oxford Intellectual Property Moot.
Margaret received the Dean’s Service award this year and is also recognised on the inaugural Dean’s Merit List. She says she is grateful for all the experiences UTS Law offers:
There are some certainties in all these experiences. The people you encounter are generous with their time, the environment that we study in is one where things like curiosity and teamwork help you thrive. And from day 1, there’s a social justice imperative that drives our community. These are the hallmarks of the culture at UTS.
The online event wasn’t the same as the usual ceremony where recipients get their moment to walk across the stage and accept their award but Law Dean Professor Lesley Hitchens says the recognition remains the same:
We believe it is more important than ever to stop and acknowledge the remarkable achievements of you, our students. We want you to know that we are full of admiration for your resilience, adaptability and desire to succeed no matter what obstacles are put in your path.
Nicholas says there’s no limit to what a UTS Law graduate can do – especially in these challenging times:
The radically different reality in which we now live presents opportunities for you to be dynamic and innovative. As well-educated and driven youth, who are willing to work hard and persevere – now is the perfect time for you.
Read more about the Law Awards 2020